24 Apr Suwannacoochee Spring and Ellaville
Suwannacoochee Spring is a small, mostly forgotten about fresh water spring. It’s on the edge of the Withlacoochee river near its convergence with the Suwannee River, nearby Suwannee State Park. The Ellaville name comes in from a historic perspective. Ellaville was a logging town at the border of Suwannee and Madison counties near the present day US90 in the mid to late 1800s. Formerly, a governor of Florida owned a home and estate in that area. Ellaville is no longer a bustling timber town, but Suwannacoochee spring was probably part of that complex, and it exists in a small park on the banks of the river today.
Suwannacoochee (pronounced “sue wanna coo chee”) is definitely a bit off the beaten path! The good thing is, the little Ellaville area park is easily accessible and is a cool place to spend some time at and get some great views of the Suwannee River, and perhaps have a picnic on one of the many tables in the area. There is also a very cool overlook from the old US90 iron-truss bridge that is closed to general traffic but you can walk across it. Then, if you’re feeling adventurous you can take the hike to the spring and the old ruins at it.
Ellaville Park Area
The park area is quite secluded, and is unlikely to have a significant amount of traffic on it as it is on the end of a now closed road and the old steel truss bridge of US90 that is now closed. There are approximately 10 parking spots, concrete picnic tables, some trash receptacles, and a couple trails. In addition, the old steel truss bridge is a pretty cool point of sight seeing in and of itself. The trail that leads from the parking area to the bank of the river has some nice large oak tree over hangs, and where it terminates at the river has a final picnic table and a nice overview of the river and the side view of the old bridge.
Once you find your way down to the river bank, you have a couple of options for further exploration or enjoyment. First of all, if the river is low enough you can follow a trail down the bank into the actual river bed where there is a large sand-bar in the middle of the river that is wide. Here the water is relatively shallow. This is a nice wading area, although there is not a whole lot of sand “beach” along the river bank unless the river is at extremely low water heights. At mid-level and high water, this entire area is under though. But when its not, it is a nice spot to enjoy the river and get refreshed!
Now to get to the spring itself, you have 2 different options. One is to follow a left hand split off the main trail from the Ellaville Park parking lot, through the woods and under the train trestle. The second option is to go down the river bank into the bed, and follow the edge of the river up around the bend into the convergence with the Withlacoochee river and keep your ears peeled for the sound of running water! The river edge walk is definitely more scenic, but also more challenging as there is a slough of rock outcroppings, tree roots, and other challenges to traverse. Neither trail is exactly easy to get through, which is one of the reasons this place doesn’t get too much traffic.
At the spring there isn’t much room or area to spread out, although there are a few flat areas you could sit and enjoy if you decided to, there are no tables or formalized picnic areas. But the views and the details of this place are sure to impress you!
See more pictures of Suwannacoochee Springs and also the Ellaville Park area in the photo gallery below. Also, at the bottom of the page are additional details and information on this spring and park that will be helpful if you decide to check it out in person.
Directions, Amenities and other information about Suwannacoochee Spring
- Travel Time: 20 Minutes from Live Oak, FL. Approx. 20 minutes from Madison, FL
- Park Type: State of Florida, FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection)
- Accessed via: Paved road for Ellaville park. Spring itself must be accessed via foot on unimproved pathways.
- Site Address (Approximate): 596 NE Drew Way, Lee, FL 32059
- Directions: From Live Oak take US90 West all the way past the agricultural check station and across the Suwannee River. Take first road to the right shortly after crossing over river, “Drew Road”. Follow to end, see parking lot for park on Left finally.